College tuition alone is expensive without considering the other expenses associated with attending school. In addition to course and enrollment fees, you will have to purchase books and supplies and are likely to face living expenses and transportation fees, as well. There are several federal and state grants available to assist you with the additional costs, though you’ll only qualify if you meet income and eligibility requirements.
The federal Pell Grant is available to all qualifying legal U.S. residents with a high school diploma or equivalency and who are enrolled in college to pursue a post-secondary education. The grant is capable of providing you with financial assistance for tuition, as well as other expenses related to college, such as textbooks, supplies and transportation costs.
You must submit a free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, to the U.S. Department of Education each year to apply for the Pell Grant. The federal government awards grants to students with the most limited resources available for college expenses, taking into consideration household size, income, expenses, assets and the number of household members currently enrolled in college. Students with the lowest estimated family contribution receive the most funding, while those with higher estimated family contributions receive less or none at all.
Depending on the state in which you live, there may be locally-subsidized grants available to assist with gas and supplies for school. For example, California’s Cal Grant Program is a state entitlement available to a limited number of low-income California college students with guidelines similar to federal Pell Grant standards. The program divides its assistance into multiple awards, but designates Cal Grant B to assist with college living expenses and expenses related to transportation, supplies and books. Similarly, New York’s TAP provides tuition assistance to qualifying low-income New York residents attending an approved New York college or university.
If you do not qualify for a federal or state grant, you may still qualify for federal tax credits that can alleviate the burden of transportation expenses and supplies, as well as tuition, housing and a bevy of other college expenditures. The Lifetime Learning Credit, for example, is worth up to $2,000 if you paid out-of-pocket fees to your college for tuition, course books, enrollment fees or supplies. As of 2011, single tax filers must have an adjusted gross income below $60,000 to claim the credit, but the credit is available every year for a lifetime. On the other hand, the American Opportunity Credit is only available for up to four years in a lifetime; however, the credit is worth up to $2,500 and as of 2011, you can qualify with an individual adjusted gross income of up to $90,000.
Allison Westbrook is an experienced writer of three years with a passion for creating relevant articles for a wide readership. She attended Kilgore College and majored in English. Allison's articles have appeared on such websites as eHow and Trails.com. Her reflective writing angles deliver focused and consistent content.